The iPhone 12 performs up to 30% worse than the iPad Air with the same Apple A14 Bionic chipset, but that is acceptable
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AnTuTu has published its first comparison between the new iPad Air and the iPhone 12, and it makes for interesting reading. Apple has, to recap, equipped the fourth-generation iPad Air and the iPhone 12 series with the same chipset, the A14 Bionic. Apple did the same with the A12 Bionic by using it in the iPhone Xs series and several iPads, but it released the former months before it did the latter. Hence, the A14 Bionic is being subjected to performance comparisons that the A12 Bionic did not.
Nonetheless, the graphic produced by AnTuTu highlights what the A14 Bionic is capable of in a larger chassis. AnTuTu speculates that Apple has limited the performance of the A14 Bionic in the iPhone 12 to take account of battery capacity and cooling constraints, which may be true. However, we will be unable to verify this until we test the iPhone 12 series and the new iPad Air ourselves.
Based on AnTuTu's findings, the iPad Air can get around 9% more from the A14 Bionic than the iPhone 12 can in CPU workloads, which translates to a points difference of almost 16,000. However, the iPad Air stretches its performance advantage to 30% in GPU tasks, which is a huge margin. It is unclear why such a gulf in performance exists, but the larger chassis of the iPad Air may allow the A14 Bionic to maintain peak clock speeds for longer than it can in the smaller footprint of the iPhone 12.
To reiterate though, we have seen similar performance differences with the A12 Bionic. The iPad Air (2019) outscores the iPhone XS by similar margins in AnTuTu v7, for example, as does the iPad Mini 5. Hence, it is unfortunate for Apple that it chose to release the iPad Air and iPhone 12 series practically simultaneously.